Thursday, May 19, 2011

Melatonin: A Cure for Mania

Since I am such an insomniac, I tried a little experiment where I took sleeping pills for two full weeks.  I just wanted to see if actually getting eight to nine hours of sleep every night for a two-week period would improve my overall quality of life.  To clarify, it wasn't actually hard-core sleeping pills.  It was Melatonin, which is some kind of natural herb, I guess.  From what I understand, the human body is supposed to naturally produce melatonin on its own, but the herbal supplement is available for those who seem to not be producing optimal levels in the evening, thus suffering from sleep-deprivation.

Okay, so two full weeks of taking these pills, and here are the results:

On the upside, I got between eight to nine hours of sleep every single night.  I slept very heavily and uninterrupted.  Dogs barking (or sheep bahhhing) never stirred me awake.  My first time opening my eyes was always when my alarm went off in the morning.  Amazing.  I never thought that kind of sleep was possible for me.  Furthermore, the good nights of sleep seemed to make my moods more level during the day.

On the downside,  I had strange dreams every night.  When I awoke each morning, I was more tired than usual.  It took me longer to get going, when usually I can just jump right out of bed.  Some days I experienced very vague, slight headaches.  And even though my moods were more level during the day, I felt more "blah."  Yes, I didn't have any spurts of moodiness these last two weeks, but I didn't have any of my manic highs either; my insane spurts of unsolicited happiness which I have come to love.  I just felt so...normal and there

So last night, for the first time in two weeks, I decided to ditch the sleeping pill.  And of course, as a result, I was up all night.  But I jumped right out of bed this morning, instantly awake.  I had no headache, and went to work in a ridiculously good mood.  I came home from work and chided Clint because he was so tired and boring.  "Look at me," I bragged, "I've only had a few hours of sleep and I'm still going.  I'm not even close to being tired"  About fifteen minutes later I crashed on the couch.  I think Clint was in the middle of a sentence, but I couldn't even tell you what he was talking about.

Now I'm wondering if I should take the sleeping pills or not.  On the one hand, it's guaranteed sleep.  I need that so bad.  On the other hand, I feel like the pills actually mellow me out...they take my manic personality away. And I don't know if I want that. If I can't feel ridiculously hyper and silly one second and come crashing down the next, what's the point of that? I like extremes because we only have this one little life to live and I like to feel stuff.

Sorry if that was too deep.  Blame it on Melatonin withdrawals.


  1. I have a friend who took Melatonin for a long time and he had some adverse health issues as a result, something about his hormones being out of whack due to the Melatonin. Try taking Valerian, instead. It's a natural relaxer, so maybe that'll help, and it doesn't mess with your hormones. I hope you find a good fit for your problem. Matt's a terrible insomniac, too, and nothing has ever helped him. Good luck!

  2. Thanks, Kristyn. I've been off the Melatonin for a few days now and my personality is back to normal, but now my eyeballs refuse to close until the wee hours of the morning. I mean, sunrises are pretty and all, but I'm not so pretty when I've been sleep-deprived for three consecutive days. If this keeps up, I'll go ahead and give the Valerian a try. Or maybe I'll go back to the Iron Hog and score another green smelly ball. ;-)

  3. Ugh, that sounds less than ideal! Sounds like it turned you into a functional zombie (AKA: Me).

  4. You might remember that I am on a CPAP machine at night, which has helped my fatigue so so much, however, every single mask I've tried is a pain in one way or another. I decided to go without it for a few weeks near the end of the school year. I felt the fatigue again and tossed and turned like crazy. I mentioned it to one of my doctors who suggested Melatonin. I have been using it and it's helped. I did have a couple strange dreams (I figure I was way into my unconsciousness!), but nothing too weird. Even with this, I miss my oxygen at night so I'm back to doing that half a week and the melatonin most nights. Perhaps I'll give the Valerian a try, as Kristyn suggested to you.

    I wonder if you are just someone who really doesn't need a lot of sleep. Remember Jo Scott and how little sleep she needs, but keeps going? Maybe that's you too. Compare notes with Jo and see what she says.
    Niecy signing off as Anonymous because I keep losing Google comments!

  5. Funny that you mention that Niecy, because on Sunday as Clint and I were driving home from the movies (after a night of getting less than five hours of sleep), I told him out of the blue, "You know what my problem is? I keep thinking this 'no sleep' thing is an issue, when really it's not. I need to just accept the fact that I don't need a lot of sleep, and embrace it." I think I'm going to just adopt this attitude from this point forward and move on. No more psychoanalyzing my sleep cycles. If I get sleep, great. If not, oh well.

    I had forgotten about the CPAP machine! That sounds so uncomfortable. But if it works, it seems a lot better than relying on some chemical to put you to sleep. I'm completely off the Melatonin now. I didn't mind the dreams they gave me, but they really were SO vivid. One was of a tornado at a schoolhouse (right before Joplin's, ironically enough), and it had characters with names and everything. Maybe Melatonin makes you more creative at night. I should be curling up in bed with a Melatonin and a paint brush. :)

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